Despite what the ANC wants South Africans to believe, the liberation movement ‘s provincial representative, MEC Maphefo Matsemela responsible for finance, presented a very worrisome and much criticised budget vote for the 2019/2020 fiscal year.
However in her address to the provincial legislature on Tuesday MEC Matsemela painted a picture of a promising financial year ahead expressing hope that the country’s economy was on its way to recovery after gloomy economic prospects during the recent past years.
Opposition parties including the Democratic Alliance (DA), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Freedom Front (FF) and others all responded with scepticism criticising almost the entire budget speech while arguing that both Matsemela and her administration were failing the local citizens.
Media reports also predicted an uncertain future for South Africa consumers during a week which saw the prices of almost every commodity rising to higher levels including petrol, food , paraffin increased toll fees and carbon taxes.
The price of fuel rose with 74 cents per litre, diesel with 7 percent to R14.05.
Petroleum prices, remarked the Automobile Association (AA), remains vulnerable to geopolitical shocks and we cannot rule out further price hikes in the first half of 2019.
To make matters worse, media monitors and financial and economic experts also predicted that the reserve bank might not effect a reduction in interests rates this year while ordinary South Africans were hoping improved economic prospects would convince the bank to bring down interests rates.
Then came the news that the South African gross domestic product (DGP) grew by a mere 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter of the previous year contributing to an overall growth of 0.8 percent for the year.
The stats which were released by STATS SA on Tuesday provided an overview of economic performance in 2018 and pointed to the SA economy shrinking by 2.7 percent in the first quarter and leading to a further 0.5 percent in the second quarter .
In this regard as MEC Matsemela said, the country is pinning its hope on the agriculture industry to assist in job creation especially in municipalities . “We encourage investment and continue to support the roll out of Agri-Parks in all municipalities to address challengers of unemployment and poverty. The Agri-Parks programme received an allocation of R91 million over the MTEF period from MEC Matsemela which was a good sign that the provincial government was recognising the important role played by agriculture in addressing economic development. All in all, South Africans must acknowledge the fact that the future does not look as bright as the country had hoped for during the initial years of our democracy. There are certainly tough times ahead for all and sundry. We can only hope that resolutions taken at job summits and other intervention programmes will come to the rescue.